Holding the Stakes of Change


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Stakeholder commitment is the root of a successful change. But getting commitment as a reaction to a proposal is beginning to make less sense without first discovering what stakeholders probably want to change. This makes change management a continual process, not an event.

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Holding the Stakes of Change

  1. 1. Holding The Stakes of Change Acquiring Solution Opportunity from Stakeholders An Archestra Notebook © 2014 Malcolm Ryder / archestra research
  2. 2. The Stakes of Change Most often, change is proposed to provide a recovery, a stabilization, or a breakthrough. Each reason is, in effect, a strategy. The strategy is a “problem”, and the change is a “solution”. In each case, a proposed change seeks future "adoption" against current "acclimation". Acclimation can be described in terms of a complex of aspects and attributes that an existing stakeholder recognizes, and with which the stakeholder currently identifies. Identification is not necessarily acceptance. But identification accounts for why the stakeholder's current agenda includes what it does. For change to be adopted, the agenda must align with the strategy.
  3. 3. The Challenge Property such as assets and entitlements Practices including expertise, roles, and permissions People including relationships and motivations Performance including tactics, evaluations and rewards Power including influence, goals and positions These agenda items interact and influence each other, while each item also has a current mix of risks and benefits relevant to the stakeholder. A proposed change can alter both the risk/benefit mix and the way these items affect each other. Property Practices PeoplePerformance Power risks to… benefits of… risks to… benefits of… risks to… benefits of… risks to… benefits of… risks to… benefits of… Acclimation: psychological investment in a complex of aspects and attributes that an existing stakeholder recognizes, and with which the stakeholder identifies. This complex is the basis of the stakeholder’s agenda. Future adoption vs. current acclimation to: ©2014MalcolmRyder/archestraresearch
  4. 4. The “invested” Agenda Key aspects Risk attribute Benefit attribute Concern Change impact Property Comfort Wealth Location, access, environment Removals Replacements Practices Competency Convenience Exposure, restrictions Assignments Responsibilities (scope) People Connection Inclusion Protection, exclusion Camaraderie Support Information Performance Status Superiority Attractiveness, reputation Recognition Compensation Power Competition Advantage Privilege, preferences Opportunities Autonomy Property such as assets and entitlements Practices including expertise, roles, and permissions People including relationships and motivations Performance including tactics, evaluations and rewards Power including influence, goals and positions The benefit of one aspect (e.g. Property) can have a positive influence on the risk of the next aspect (e.g. Practices). These connections mean that the overall balance of issues can be sensitive to alteration of even one issue. In the examples shown above, typical issues are attributes of current circumstances, thematically labeled to help identify their psychological importance. The stakeholder already has actions or decisions (add, preserve, modify, eliminate, prevent, etc.) that accommodate these attributes in some way. Faced with proposed changes, the current sense of being safe, self-sufficient, effective or creative is at stake. ©2014MalcolmRyder/archestraresearch
  5. 5. The Investment A stakeholder is invested in the agenda. The effort and habits already being expended on the agenda represent a constraint on change in the form of either inertia or existing momentum to overcome. Stakeholder concerns affect the pursuit of any strategy. Stakeholders are psychologically invested in their agenda and may already be experiencing certain risks and rewards in terms of a sense of being self-sufficient, creative, or effective. Because this psychological feedback is deeply personalized and is several "levels" away from the justifying "logic" of the proposed change, adjustments to this feedback can determine whether the stakeholder can be recruited into an attitude that pursues the proposed change instead of avoiding it. Notably, active avoidance is not necessarily resistance. It is critical to understand that avoidance can be strategic, tactical or even accidental. Understood from the point of view of achieving change adoption, the significance of avoidance is that it produces an "absence of support“.
  6. 6. Will Stakeholders Support a Change? Stakeholders represent the capacity to change. Managing change requires identifying the capacity, to release it and commit it as necessary for supporting the requirements of the change. This means that the lifecycle of a change begins by identifying accountability of the hypothetical change: its viability, feasibility and credibility based on capacity. The accountability proposes agreements to take responsibilities needed for creating an organization that in active practice will support the effort to achieve the change. In effect, the proposed accountability is a design. Following the design, appropriate resourcing and production organize the change as a plan with a deliverable outcome. But the design must be accepted by a sufficient group of stakeholders who must contribute. The issue at hand is one of “what” change will be accepted by available stakeholders.
  7. 7. Managing the Stakes vs. Opportunity The most radical implication of translating current acclimation to future adoption is a requirement for proactive design of change. In this translation, the proposed change (i.e. “opportunity”) is a goal, and the importance of the goal causes potential strategy to evolve emergently from intensive modeling showing stakeholder orientation and resource organization. The modeling is an iterative and recursive cycling of analyses. The outcome of the cycling is a Change Readiness Assessment. After the assessment, a change is proposed as an opportunity because its credibility is already measured. The discipline of continually assessing opportunity produces an inventory of graded opportunities that may be proposed as changes. The limitation of this approach is the decision about whether to use current capacity or to use different capacity. Matching capacity to opportunity is essential to change. Therefore, goals drive capacity decisions, even as capacity can drive a revision of goals. - Who will be reliably responsible? - What supporting investments are reliable? - Where is an impact most likely to be worthwhile? ©2014MalcolmRyder/archestraresearch
  8. 8. What to do about the Stakeholder Agenda Stakeholders have an agenda that presents possible needs for trade-offs. Trade-offs compensate for losses of protection against risks and preservations of benefits that may be altered or removed. Compensations change the perspective of the stakeholder by presenting the group of tradeoffs as a position on a pathway to a better return on the energy required to maintain investment in being a stakeholder. That improved ROI is the opportunity that encourages the stakeholder’s agreement to the intention to pursue the goal that is the proposed change. Net: the stakeholder needs to see the proposed change as an investment opportunity.
  9. 9. A change may be proposed based on precedents or on new insights. But both cases rely on inputs that may continue to arrive throughout preparations to change. Adaptability is a form of robustness… ① ② ③ Change Proposition Decide strategy Design projects Assess capacity “Bottom-up” alignment looks for ways that current stakeholder capacities can resolve to proactively provide additions to a portfolio of options. This is significant both for risk management and for innovation. ③ New developments external to the organization continue to occur independently of the change effort. ① Current internal inertia or momentum may be a definitive constraint, causing capacity to materialize (or not) in ways not expected. ② Competition for resources may still occur independently of intended commitments. During change production, extenuating circumstances can force revisions of the plan to occur at three different levels of alignment between the stakeholder and the change. Stakeholders are committed to an existing personal agenda of efforts, which will need to be addressed with strong enough incentives to commit to an agenda oriented towards the proposed change. © 2014 Malcolm Ryder / archestra research
  10. 10. The design of a change accounts for the alignment of available stakeholders to the requirements of a proposed goal. Goals may need to be revised based on apparent opportunities offered through stakeholder alignment. Stakeholders invest in the maintenance of their own plans to manage risks and benefits, and they will expect to see a return on that. A change is a means of implementing a strategy. Implementation is a problem; a change is an emergent solution. ① Proactive Assessment begins ② Relevant Resourcing is organized ③ The goal is Formally Proposed The goals that motivate a change are usually recoveries, stabilizations, or breakthroughs. © 2014 Malcolm Ryder / archestra research
  11. 11. Notes: Emergent Change Design Thinking: It relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional, and to express ourselves through means beyond words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over- reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives. -- IDEO Systems Thinking: A system is composed of interrelated parts or components (structures) that cooperate in processes (behavior)… The component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation… Small catalytic events that are separated by distance and time can be the cause of significant changes in complex systems… An improvement in one area of a system can adversely affect another area of the system. Systems thinking views "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific parts, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect. -- Wikipedia
  12. 12. © 2014 Malcolm Ryder / archestra research mryder@malcolmryder.com